How Long Does It Take to Become A Medical Assistant?

Becoming a medical assistant (MA) offers incredible benefits, including excellent job stability, competitive pay, and opportunities for advancing toward other healthcare roles. Assisting in the medical field is also an enriching career that requires just a few years in school. NWSC’s medical assistant training program only takes eight months. With small class sizes, experienced instructors, and hands-on learning experiences, students in the program graduate with the skills and confidence they’ll need to hit the ground running and succeed. New courses begin every month, so you can start working on your career goals immediately. 

If you like caring for people and thriving in fast-paced environments, you might be a perfect candidate. Medical assistants are vital in clinics, hospitals, and any medical setting. Medical assistants play a critical supportive role for many different healthcare teams and make a huge difference in the lives of their patients.

The Importance of Medical Assistants In Healthcare

Medical assistants are considered indispensable within the healthcare industry, which is one of the main reasons this career has excellent job security and expected growth. Assistants perform a wide range of tasks to help facilities run as smoothly as possible and provide patients with high-quality care. Some of these tasks and responsibilities include:

  • Being “the first point of contact”: Medical assistants often interact with patients before seeing the doctor, nurse, or specialist. MAs can set the stage for a positive healthcare experience by making patients comfortable, building trust, and gathering important information like their medical history and insurance details.
  • Facilitating communication during every step: Medical assistants must pass vital information between patients and their doctors or nurses as accurately and efficiently as possible. This role can include conveying test results, explaining follow-up care instructions, maintaining patient records, or simply answering basic questions to help patients feel more comfortable. Essentially, MAs create a seamless flow of information, allowing other team members, especially physicians, to focus more fully on their roles.

What Medical Assistants Do

Medical assistants are involved in the administrative and clinical aspects of patient care, making them an important addition to every healthcare team. According to the American Association of Medical Assistants, most MAs are responsible for performing the following tasks each day:

  • Taking Medical Histories: Medical assistants collect crucial information about the patient’s medical background, such as allergies, current medications, and any pre-existing conditions, which helps physicians make informed decisions about the patient’s care.
  • Explaining Treatment Procedures: They help patients understand the details of their treatment and break down medical jargon into simple terms.
  • Preparing Patients for Examinations: Medical assistants can help examinations run smoothly by correctly preparing the room or positioning the patient.
  • Assisting Doctors and Nurses With Examinations: MAs work closely with other healthcare professionals and provide extra hands during a checkup, such as by monitoring vital signs.
  • Collecting and Preparing Laboratory Specimens: Medical assistants support the diagnostic process by collecting blood, urine, and other specimens for lab analysis.
  • Performing Basic Laboratory Tests: In some cases, MAs can also conduct routine laboratory tests, like monitoring the patient’s blood glucose levels.
  • Instructing Patients about Medication and Special Diets: The guidance provided by medical assistants is crucial for educating and empowering patients. This guidance could include providing information on dietary restrictions or explaining how to take medications properly.

The Medical Assistant Training Program At NWSC

The Medical Assistant program at Northwest Suburban College offers a well-rounded curriculum combining comprehensive classroom instruction with a 160-hour externship that provides hands-on training with actual patients. Certification takes only 32 weeks, allowing students to fast-track a successful career in the healthcare field and graduate with some practical experience under their belt.

Classroom Training

The 560 hours of classroom instruction will cover everything a skilled medical assistant needs to excel throughout their career, including:

  • Clinical Assisting and Examination Techniques: The skills required to support physicians and nurses examining patients by performing various clinical tasks.
  • Diagnostic and Specialty Procedures: Learn to collect specimens, perform diagnostic tests, and assist with more specialized medical procedures.
  • Medical Records and Pharmacology: The essentials of keeping medical records and understanding pharmacology information, like drug dosages.
  • Medical Billing and Insurance Processing: The administrative skills to handle any aspects of their work that deals with billing, coding, or submitting insurance claims.
  • Medical Records and Patient Education: Developing the communication skills required to maintain accurate patient records and educate patients on crucial aspects of their care.

Real-World Experience

During the 4-8 week externship, students work closely with experienced healthcare professionals to apply their newfound skills in real situations. Some students impress their externship supervisors so much that they’ll even be offered a job after completing certification! This unique opportunity is incredibly helpful to getting an MA career off the ground and allows our students to learn by doing, become confident in their work, and even make professional connections.  

Learn More About NSWC’s Medical Assistant Training Program

Medical assistants are in demand in almost every healthcare setting and contribute significantly to every team. NWSC’s Medical Assistant program empowers students to launch their careers in this sector of the medical field within just eight months. With new classes starting every month, there’s no better time to take the first step toward achieving your goals. Contact NWSC today for more information on how to begin your journey as a certified medical assistant.

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